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February, 2004 - Nr. 2


The Editor
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Made in Germany vs. EU
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German/US Ties
Munich After All

Industry vs. EU in
"Made in Germany" row

  TWIG - In the face of stiff opposition from German business leaders and lawmakers, EU officials swiftly backed away from a plan that would require European businesses to scrap national trademarks like "Made in Germany" in favor of one saying "Made in Europe."

Floating the idea on Monday (January 12), a spokesperson for EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said that the block’s executive, the European Commission, believed a "Made in Europe" label could boost business by becoming a sign of international prestige.

"The ‘Made in the EU’ mark would carry a number of advantages: Promoting a mark of distinction and higher visibility for the EU," the spokesperson told reporters.

But German lawmakers and manufacturers reacted with outrage to the plan, saying it would actually hurt producers already facing stiff international competition, particularly from China.

The powerful BDI industry federation rejected the idea outright, and the BVMW association of small producers called the plan a "frontal assault on German quality standards."

Lawmakers also came to the defence of traditional national marks.

"Everyone knows a ‘Made in Germany’ car stands for quality and perfection, shoes made in Italy stand for chic fashion, Scotch whisky is world renowned," Ingo Friedrich, a conservative Member of the European Parliament from Germany, said in a statement.

As the influential mass-circulation daily Bild joined the growing chorus of critics with a biting commentary in its Tuesday edition ("Made in Germany — batty in Brussels"), EU officials began to back away from the plan, which had originally been suggested by Italy.

Officials said that a compulsory EU label would not displace the national brands after all, but added that the Commission was still planning to explore a voluntary duel-labelling system.

The "Made in Germany" trademark has been around since the English Parliament’s Merchandise Marks Act of 1887 required the label to appear on all German imports to the British Empire. The hope was to prevent German producers from making low-quality copies of English brands.

As Germany tightened its production standards, what started as a punitive label quickly became a sign of superior quality that consumers the world over recognize to this day.

Republished with permission from "The Week in Germany"


EU Trade Directorate


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